Why are we not surprised? The digital edition of Justice League #1 goes live today at 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific), but illegal downloads of the issue are percolating merrily away all over the Internet. The Pirate Bay shows a copy being uploaded at 4:10 a.m. GMT — that’s 11:10 p.m. ET Tuesday, 50 minutes before the print edition officially went on sale — and some other file-sharing sites have even earlier times.
As of 6:30 this morning, The Pirate Bay file had 210 seeders (people who have downloaded the file and are offering it to others to upload) and 23 leechers (people who are just downloading).
DC Comics has two things to worry about here. The first is that the first comic of the publisher’s biggest event in decades was available illegally more than 14 hours before the legitimate digital release, which raises the question of why the company is holding the digital release till so late in the day. To protect comics shops? Well, that failed. There will always be people who use illegal downloads because they’re free, but what DC needs to worry about is people who would pay for a legitimate download but grabbed the torrent first because it was up when they woke up this morning, and they could read the comic over their coffee. If you’re going to do digital, dammit, do it right.
The other problem is the response to the comic itself in the comment thread at The Pirate Bay, which was pretty negative. Although maybe that’s just a pirate-site thing, with people treating it with contempt because they got it for free, Comic Book Resources reviewer Greg McElhatton was also pretty lukewarm toward the debut issue.